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From outside, the house on Tustin's East Seventeenth Street resembles all the other single-family residences alongside it-except for that big "Transcendental Meditation & TM-Sidhi Program" sign out front. Certainly, the occupants of the cars whizzing by have no clue that inside, a campaign is under way to meditate away the bombs falling on Kosovo.
"The maharishi has told us we can tell the press we can stop the war in 48 hours," says Cindy Katz. Katz helps run the Orange County Transcendental Meditation (TM) Program. Maharishi? That'd be maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the old gent with flowing salt-and-pepper hair and a gray beard who is depicted in the large portrait ringed by tiny white Christmas lights on the living room/central meeting area wall. Yogi, who must be smarter than the average maharishi, leads the worldwide TM movement and is referred to as "his holiness," but one doesn't have to change religious beliefs to learn and benefit from TM. Just cut a $575 check ($345 for students and seniors), and you're off on a one-way trip to elegant bliss.
Katz, a middle-aged woman with the voice, demeanor and patience of a kindergarten teacher, is actually a chiropractor. She has been teaching TM since 1976 and occasionally had to interrupt our Kosovo discussion on a lazy Sunday afternoon to wrap up a levitation class, play a video for two advanced TM students, and lead an introductory session for three prospects. Fortunately, there to help Katz fill in the gaps was Dr. John W. Zamarra, a stocky, balding Fullerton cardiologist with an accent and blunt manner that suggest East Coast origins. Katz and Zamarra believe they and others in the TM movement hold the key to a peaceful end to the Balkan conflict.
"The old style of addressing people as a big power is not going to work this time," Katz warned. "It's going to double back on us. NATO's presence has increased tensions. If we continue on this path, it's going to lead to retaliation against the U.S. directly. Violence begets violence. The maharishi doesn't want to see that. He wants to see balance."
The maharishi wants the U.S. military to send 7,000 TM-Sidhi Program peacekeepers to Kosovo. Katz claims there's independent scientific analysis to back up the claim: articles printed in crime-prevention and science journals prove, she says, that TM-Sidhi (Sidhi means "mental perfection") lowered Washington, D.C.'s crime rate an average of 25 percent over a two-month period.
This is how it works: advanced transcendental meditationists get together in one place, meditate in sync, and then partake in levitation or "yogic flying" (which to someone uninitiated to TM looked an awful lot like smiling people in the lotus position hopping across padded mats).
Zamarra explained that every town and village in the world has a "group consciousness" working. "You know how it feels different going from one town to another? It's because different people make up a collective consciousness," he said. That collective consciousness influences how everyone acts. "War is an expression of collective stress," Katz said. TM-Sidhi practitioners can tap into collective consciousness and direct it away from violence, Zamarra said.
However, because D.C.'s crime statistics rose 48 hours after the TMsters left, the people of Kosovo will have to be taught TM-Sidhi to maintain the peace, Katz said.
Unfortunately, getting through to the politicians in Washington, D.C., has been next to impossible, Zamarra said. Too much "gridlock." He was sure publication of those positive TM-Sidhi stats would cause a "light bulb to go on" around the world. It didn't. So the new strategy is to change the collective consciousness of average Americans to create support for a TM peacemaking mission to Kosovo to change the collective consciousness there.
"It's going to take large groups of yogic fliers," Zamarra said.
Book your flights now.